The Endocannabinoid System: A Potential Target for the Treatment of Various Diseases

ijms-logo“The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is primarily responsible for maintaining homeostasis, a balance in internal environment (temperature, mood, and immune system) and energy input and output in living, biological systems.

In addition to regulating physiological processes, the ECS directly influences anxiety, feeding behaviour/appetite, emotional behaviour, depression, nervous functions, neurogenesis, neuroprotection, reward, cognition, learning, memory, pain sensation, fertility, pregnancy, and pre-and post-natal development.

The ECS is also involved in several pathophysiological diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. In recent years, genetic and pharmacological manipulation of the ECS has gained significant interest in medicine, research, and drug discovery and development.

The distribution of the components of the ECS system throughout the body, and the physiological/pathophysiological role of the ECS-signalling pathways in many diseases, all offer promising opportunities for the development of novel cannabinergic, cannabimimetic, and cannabinoid-based therapeutic drugs that genetically or pharmacologically modulate the ECS via inhibition of metabolic pathways and/or agonism or antagonism of the receptors of the ECS. This modulation results in the differential expression/activity of the components of the ECS that may be beneficial in the treatment of a number of diseases.

This manuscript in-depth review will investigate the potential of the ECS in the treatment of various diseases, and to put forth the suggestion that many of these secondary metabolites of Cannabis sativa L. (hereafter referred to as “C. sativa L.” or “medical cannabis”), may also have potential as lead compounds in the development of cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals for a variety of diseases.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34502379/

https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/22/17/9472

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Cannabidiol reduces lesion volume and restores vestibulomotor and cognitive function following moderately severe traumatic brain injury

Experimental Neurology“Despite the high incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI), there is no universal treatment to safely treat patients. Blunt brain injuries destroy primary neural tissue that results in impaired perfusion, excessive release of glutamate, inflammation, excitotoxicity, and progressive secondary neuronal cell death.

We hypothesized that administration of cannabidiol (CBD) directly to a brain contusion site, will optimize delivery to the injured tissue which will reduce local neural excitation and inflammation to spare neural tissue and improve neurological outcome following TBI.

CBD was infused into a gelfoam matrix forming an implant (CBDi), then applied over the dura at the contusion site as well as delivered systemically by injection (CBD.IP). Post-injury administration of CBDi+IP greatly reduced defecation scores, lesion volume, the loss of neurons in the ipsilateral hippocampus, the number of injured neurons of the contralateral hippocampus, and reversed TBI-induced glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) upregulation which was superior to either CBD.IP or CBDi treatment alone.

Vestibulomotor performance on the beam-balance test was restored by 12 days post-TBI and sustained through 28 days. CBDi+IP treated rats exhibited preinjury levels of spontaneous alternation on the spontaneous alternation T-maze. In the object recognition test, they had greater mobility and exploration of novel objects compared to contusion or implant alone consistent with reduced anxiety and restored cognitive function.

These results suggest that dual therapy by targeting the site of injury internally with a CBD-infused medical carrier followed by systemic supplementation may offer a more effective countermeasure than systemic or implant treatment alone for the deleterious effects of penetrating head wounds.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34428457/

“CBD improved vestibulomotor function and learning and memory cognitive performance post-TBI. Local delivery at the contusion site and systemic injection of CBD reduced TBI-induced lesion volume. Dual treatment, direct and systemic CBD, is superior to single treatment.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0014488621002521?via%3Dihub

http://www.thctotalhealthcare.com/category/brain-trauma/

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Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury Following Treatment with Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Is Associated with Increased Expression of Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor and Other Neurotrophic Factors

View details for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research cover image“The hematopoietic cytokine granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) is well known to stimulate proliferation of blood stem/progenitor cells of the leukocyte lineage, but is also recognized as a neurotrophic factor involved in brain self-repair processes. G-CSF administration has been shown to promote recovery from experimental models of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to modulate components of the endocannabinoid system (eCS). Conversely, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9THC) treatment of normal mice has been shown to increase blood levels of G-CSF in the periphery. 

Hypothesis: Administration of the phytocannabinoid Δ9THC will enhance brain repair following controlled cortical impact (CCI) by upregulating G-CSF and other neurotrophic factors (brain-derived neurotrophic factor [BDNF] and glial-derived neurotrophic factor [GDNF]) in brain regions. 

Materials and Methods: C57BL/6J mice underwent CCI and were treated for 3 days with THC 3 mg/kg intraperitoneally. Motor function on a rotarod was recorded at baseline and 3, 7, and 14 days after CCI. Groups of mice were euthanized at 7 and 14 days. G-CSF, BDNF, and GDNF expression were measured at 7 and 14 days in cerebral cortex, striatum, and hippocampus on the side of the trauma. 

Results: Δ9THC-treated mice ran on the rotarod longer than vehicle-treated mice and recovered to normal rotarod performance levels at 2 weeks. These mice, compared to vehicle-treated animals, exhibited significant upregulation of G-CSF as well as BDNF and GDNF in cerebral cortex, striatum, and hippocampus. 

Conclusion: Administration of the phytocannabinoid Δ9THC promotes significant recovery from TBI and is associated with upregulation of brain G-CSF, BDNF, and GDNF, neurotrophic factors previously shown to mediate brain self-repair following TBI and stroke.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33998887/

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/can.2020.0119

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Use of Medical Cannabis to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury

View details for Journal of Neurotrauma cover image“There is not a single pharmacological agent with demonstrated therapeutic efficacy for traumatic brain injury (TBI). With recent legalization efforts and the growing popularity of medical cannabis, patients with TBI will inevitably consider medical cannabis as a treatment option.

Preclinical TBI research suggests cannabinoids have neuroprotective and psychotherapeutic properties.

Our review identified a paucity of high-quality studies examining the beneficial and adverse effects of medical cannabis on traumatic brain injury, with only a single Phase III randomized control trial. However, observational studies demonstrate that TBI patients are using medical and recreational cannabis to treat their symptoms, highlighting inconsistencies between public policy, perception of potential efficacy, and the dearth of empirical evidence.

We conclude that randomized controlled trials and prospective studies with appropriate control groups are necessary to fully understand the efficacy and potential adverse effects of medical cannabis for TBI.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33256496/

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/neu.2020.7148

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Investigating the cumulative effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and repetitive mild traumatic brain injury on adolescent rats

 Issue Cover“The prevalence of mild traumatic brain injury is highest amongst the adolescent population and can lead to complications including neuroinflammation and excitotoxicity.

Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive component of cannabis, is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and serves as a neuroprotective agent against excitotoxicity.

Thus, we investigated the effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol on recovery when administered either prior to or following repeated mild brain injuries.

We hypothesized that, in both experiments, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol administration would provide neuroprotection against mild injury outcomes and confer therapeutic benefit.

Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol administration following repeated mild traumatic brain injury was beneficial to three of the six behavioural outcomes affected by injury (reducing anxiety and depressive-like behaviours while also mitigating injury-induced deficits in short-term working memory). Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol administration following injury also showed beneficial effects on the expression of Cnr1Comt and Vegf-2R in the hippocampus, nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex.

There were no notable benefits of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol when administered prior to injury, suggesting that Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol may have potential therapeutic benefit on post-concussive symptomology when administered post-injury, but not pre-injury.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32954298/

 “Overall, this study suggests that THC has potential therapeutic efficacy for the treatment of RmTBI-induced symptomology but requires additional examination.”

https://academic.oup.com/braincomms/article/2/1/fcaa042/5819138

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The Treatment of Cognitive, Behavioural and Motor Impairments from Brain Injury and Neurodegenerative Diseases through Cannabinoid System Modulation-Evidence from In Vivo Studies

jcm-logo“Neurological disorders such as neurodegenerative diseases or traumatic brain injury are associated with cognitive, motor and behavioural changes that influence the quality of life of the patients. Although different therapeutic strategies have been developed and tried until now to decrease the neurological decline, no treatment has been found to cure these pathologies.

In the last decades, the implication of the endocannabinoid system in the neurological function has been extensively studied, and the cannabinoids have been tried as a new promising potential treatment. In this study, we aimed to overview the recent available literature regarding in vivo potential of natural and synthetic cannabinoids with underlying mechanisms of action for protecting against cognitive decline and motor impairments.

The results of studies on animal models showed that cannabinoids in traumatic brain injury increase neurobehavioral function, working memory performance, and decrease the neurological deficit and ameliorate motor deficit through down-regulation of pro-inflammatory markers, oedema formation and blood-brain barrier permeability, preventing neuronal cell loss and up-regulating the levels of adherence junction proteins.

In neurodegenerative diseases, the cannabinoids showed beneficial effects in decreasing the motor disability and disease progression by a complex mechanism targeting more signalling pathways further than classical receptors of the endocannabinoid system. In light of these results, the use of cannabinoids could be beneficial in traumatic brain injuries and multiple sclerosis treatment, especially in those patients who display resistance to conventional treatment.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32726998/

https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/9/8/2395

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Cannabidiol alleviates hemorrhagic shock-induced neural apoptosis in rats by inducing autophagy through activation of the PI3K/AKT pathway.

Publication cover image“Recently, several studies have reported that the pharmacological effects exerted by cannabidiol (CBD) are partially related to the regulation of autophagy. Increasing evidence indicates that autophagy provides protection against ischemia-induced brain injury. However, the protective effect of CBD against mitochondrial-dependent apoptosis in hemorrhagic shock (HS)-induced brain injury has not been studied.

In the present study, we observed the protective effects of CBD against neural mitochondrial-dependent apoptosis in a rat model of HS. In addition, CBD increased Beclin-1 and LC3II expression and reduced P62 expression, which were indicative of autophagy. CBD treatment attenuated the neural apoptosis induced by HS, as reflected by restoring mitochondrial dysfunction, downregulation of BAX, neuro-apoptosis ratio and NF-κB signaling activation, and upregulation of BCL2 in the cerebral cortex.

Such protective effects were reversed by 3-Methyladenine, a specific autophagy inhibitor, indicating that the protective effects of CBD treatment involved autophagy. LY294002, a PI3K inhibitor, significantly inhibited CBD-induced autophagy, demonstrating that PI3K/AKT signaling is involved in the CBD’s regulation of autophagy. Furthermore, we found that CBD treatment upregulated PI3K/AKT signaling via cannabinoid receptor 1.

Therefore, these findings suggested that CBD treatment protects against cerebral injury induced by HS-mediated mitochondrial-dependent apoptosis by activating the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway to reinforce autophagy.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32215966

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/fcp.12557

“Hemorrhagic shock occurs when the body begins to shut down due to large amounts of blood loss.” https://www.healthline.com/health/hemorrhagic-shock

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Cannabidiol in sport : ergogenic or else?

Pharmacological Research“In the sports domain, cannabis is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) across all sports in competition since 2004. The few studies on physical exercise and cannabis focused on the main compound i.e. Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another well-known phytocannabinoid present in dried or heated preparations of cannabis. Unlike Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD is non-intoxicating but exhibits pharmacological properties that are interesting for medical use.

The worldwide regulatory status of CBD is complex and this compound is still a controlled substance in many countries. Interestingly, however, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from the list of prohibited substances – in or out of competition – since 2018. This recent decision by the WADA leaves the door open for CBD use by athletes.

In the present opinion article we wish to expose the different CBD properties discovered in preclinical studies that could be further tested in the sport domain to ascertain its utility. Preclinical studies suggest that CBD could be useful to athletes due to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic, neuroprotective properties and its influence on the sleep-wake cycle. Unfortunately, almost no clinical data are available on CBD in the context of exercise, which makes its use in this context still premature.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32205233

“Athletes could benefit from CBD to manage pain, inflammation and the swelling processes associated with injury. CBD could be useful to manage anxiety, fear memory process, sleep and sleepiness in athletes. CBD could be interesting for the management of mild traumatic brain injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1043661819326143?via%3Dihub

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Matched pilot study examining cannabis-based dronabinol for acute pain following traumatic injury.

BMJ Journals“To determine whether adjunctive dronabinol, a licensed form of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, reduces opioid consumption when used off-label for managing acute pain following traumatic injury.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results of this study suggest adjunctive dronabinol reduces opioid consumption following traumatic injury.

The opioid-sparing effect of dronabinol may be greater in patients who are marijuana users.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32154376

https://tsaco.bmj.com/content/5/1/e000391

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Cannabinoids and the expanded endocannabinoid system in neurological disorders.

 Related image“Anecdotal evidence that cannabis preparations have medical benefits together with the discovery of the psychotropic plant cannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) initiated efforts to develop cannabinoid-based therapeutics.

These efforts have been marked by disappointment, especially in relation to the unwanted central effects that result from activation of cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1), which have limited the therapeutic use of drugs that activate or inactivate this receptor.

The discovery of CB2 and of endogenous cannabinoid receptor ligands (endocannabinoids) raised new possibilities for safe targeting of this endocannabinoid system. However, clinical success has been limited, complicated by the discovery of an expanded endocannabinoid system – known as the endocannabinoidome – that includes several mediators that are biochemically related to the endocannabinoids, and their receptors and metabolic enzymes.

The approvals of nabiximols, a mixture of THC and the non-psychotropic cannabinoid cannabidiol, for the treatment of spasticity and neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis, and of purified botanical cannabidiol for the treatment of otherwise untreatable forms of paediatric epilepsy, have brought the therapeutic use of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids in neurological diseases into the limelight.

In this Review, we provide an overview of the endocannabinoid system and the endocannabinoidome before discussing their involvement in and clinical relevance to a variety of neurological disorders, including Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, Huntington disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, stroke, epilepsy and glioblastoma.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31831863

“The existence of the endocannabinoidome explains in part why some non-euphoric cannabinoids, which affect several endocannabinoidome proteins, are useful for the treatment of neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.”

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41582-019-0284-z

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